Gundo claims Blues have to re­gain fo­cus

TO RAISE THEIR GAME

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT - By TY­RONE MAR­SHALL

ILKAY Gun­do­gan has blamed a col­lec­tive loss of fo­cus for City’s strug­gles this sea­son as the Blues turn their at­ten­tions to the Cham­pi­ons League.

City face a dead rub­ber in Croa­tia tonight against Di­namo Za­greb, hav­ing al­ready se­cured top spot in Group C. And the Euro­pean ex­cur­sion could be a wel­come break from do­mes­tic du­ties, with their Premier League ti­tle de­fence in tat­ters af­ter slip­ping 14 points be­hind Liver­pool.

Af­ter tak­ing 198 points from the pre­vi­ous two ti­tle-win­ning sea­sons, Gun­do­gan be­lieves hav­ing to go to the well for a third straight sea­son, with Jur­gen Klopp’s side show­ing no let-up in their own ti­tle am­bi­tions, has proved to be too much.

The de­feat to United at the week­end was their fourth re­verse of the

Premier League sea­son and Gun­do­gan gave an hon­est assess­ment of the is­sues the Blues have faced this term.

“It’s just in gen­eral and life, if you are suc­cess­ful and have won so many things some­times you lose fo­cus in that pe­riod,” the Ger­many in­ter­na­tional said.

“The more de­feats you have to recog­nise that’s not the way you want to end up, you want to im­prove again. It’s now the chal­lenge to bounce back. We all want to chal­lenge again and be the best be­cause the po­ten­tial is there.”

A third suc­ces­sive Premier League ti­tle for the Blues al­ready looks out of reach, but Gun­do­gan doesn’t think their third year slump is any­thing to be un­duly con­cerned about.

The for­mer Borus­sia Dort­mund mid­fielder has plot­ted a way out of City’s dif­fi­cul­ties as well, calling on the squad to stick to­gether and take in­di­vid­ual re­spon­si­bil­ity for their own per­for­mances.

“I think it’s not un­usual af­ter two great sea­sons – it’s even tougher to do three in a row,” said Gun­do­gan.

“But it’s also the chal­lenge, if you want to be on top of the chal­lenge to play the same suc­cess­ful kind of foot­ball ev­ery sea­son, I think it’s nor­mal we are go­ing through this pe­riod but the only way out is to stick to­gether and try to come back to what we’ve done in the past.

“Ev­ery sin­gle player has to take re­spon­si­bil­ity to reach his best level again. The sooner we can do that the sooner we’ll be suc­cess­ful again, but it’s a chal­lenge and we have to ac­cept it.”

City have won just two of their past seven games in all com­pe­ti­tions and that run has led a drop in con­fi­dence as well.

“Of course there’s a lack of con­fi­dence when you lose games, you recog­nise we didn’t play as well as we can,” said Gun­do­gan. “But we are strong men­tally and we should be able to do our best.

“To­day is a new chal­lenge, we start from zero, we have to prove our­selves, put a good per­for­mance on the pitch and try to win the game.”

Ilkay Gun­do­gan

Ilkay Gun­do­gan train­ing with the City squad ahead of tonight’s game

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